It’s been about a month since I settled in Oakland. Alot has happened and I’ve had alot to think about. One of my roommates got me a job working for her at a marketing research company making calls to people to see if they want to participate in paid studies. It doesn’t pay particularly well but the hours are good and the job itself is not as bad as I originally expected. I never have to get up before 9 am and the office is small, well-lit, vibrant and constantly stocked with snacks. The company holiday party involved decent food, wine, a chair masseuse, a small cash bonus and the usual corny Yankee Swap presents just in case you forgot you were at work still.
Having a job has certainly normalized my life here a little. It’s made it easier to settle in and feel secure and start being creative again. The warehouse where I’m living is full of distractions so making time for myself has been difficult, especially as I’m trying to make friends and feel like part of a community. I’ve been to a couple parties attended mostly by Burners, that seems to be the community that I’ve found myself in. If you haven’t been to Burning Man, you are the exception. Hello, my hand just raised and now everyone knows. I feel naked and everyone is staring at me.
Actually, that has been my general experience here so far. I feel very out of place most of the time. I’ve had great moments when I do feel comfortable and understood and appreciated. I’ve had some amazing conversations that expand my brain and remind me of the person I am and what I find most important in life. But when your life purpose is something so abstract as experiencing decent connections with people, it’s easy to feel sometimes like you’re failing. There is no tangible physical result to grasp and when a connection with a person is made, by nature it is a fleeting moment. Perhaps my life purpose is just another kind of addiction as I seek to surround myself with loving, open and authentic individuals. These individuals, like myself, don’t stay in one place forever. Thankfully, there is the internet to give us some string to tug on when we need to connect to those who aren’t next to us.
The month that I’ve spent in Oakland has definitely caused a lot of growth. I can tell because change often makes me feel uncertain and question my decisions. That’s what I’m doing now. Did I make the right decision to stay here? I suppose. The right decision is the one you make. There really is no wrong decision. I remind myself that I am here in this particular place, in this particular time, for a reason regardless of whether it is known to me. The amount that I am learning about myself in such a short amount of time proves that I’m in the right place. It’s just teetering on the painful at the moment.
I’ve been dealing with the uncertainty of my situation as well as I know how. Trying to connect to people to talk to and if that’s not possible then I find some solitary creative outlet. I bought a sketchbook the day I got my first paycheck though I haven’t used it yet. I’ve painted two wonderful jellyfish on the wall of my bedroom and that helped tremendously. But I had my first real dream last night of being at a pottery studio and getting ready to throw for the first time in what feels like an eternity. I spent the whole dream having to tend to other things so that I never got to sit down and feel the clay in my hands. I woke up feeling quite unsatisfied.
I’m realizing as I get more settled that the eyes I used to see the world while I was traveling have glazed over. I have started to take my surroundings for granted and reverted back to clinging to mundane routine parts of life that give me the illusion of comfort. Once every few days, I get a flash of how I saw the world when I had fewer worries and I see the world as magically as it is. I realize logically I can bring those visions back with a bit of effort. Hopefully, I can manage that. But I also realize I need to be in the right space to achieve that and I’m struggling to make this warehouse my home.
Living here is a bit like being on Survivor. You build relationships with people, consider them your allies, and hopefully you don’t get voted off the island.